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<<  -- 3 --  Wilfrid Mellers    SECOND SIGHT


This production, given its musical values, must on no account be missed. As a theatrical experience it is not, however, among Opera North's happiest efforts, since the almost Disneyesque crudity of its visual images threatens to be fatal to the audible magic. For Ravel, the line between reality and dream was almost invisible -- which is why he could shift between the two states so readily. At this performance, I frequently found myself closing my eyes to safeguard the magic: though I must admit that the scene in the starlit, rose-embowered, insect-humming nocturnal garden was almost worthy of Ravel's music.

Lauriane Deltail (left), Oriola Islama (as Petrushka) and E J Boyle (right) in the Opera North 2002 production of Stravinsky's 'Petrushka'. Photo: Bill Cooper

The 'fill-up', Stravinsky's ballet Petrouchka (1911), also involves the difference between men and machines, people and puppets, Petrouchka himself being a puppet who is humanized by way of his extravagant love for the beautiful Columbine, though for his pains he is brutally slaughtered by his bestial rival in love, bluntly called The Moor. The murder is, however, ambiguous, for after the sadistic physical action Petrouchka's 'spirit' appears to hover over his mangled body -- presumably indicating that Diaghilev hoped or even believed that humanity (with Diaghilev's help) would survive the however horrendous onslaughts of 20th century mechanization. Little is left of the original story in this Opera North revival, which of course doesn't assay the virtuosic techniques of Diaghilev ballet. Even so, the young dancers in the Opera North company have considerable terpsichorean ability; and the revamped plot has a crude contemporary relevance in dealing with Immigration and Identity. And one can always close one's eyes and listen to Stravinsky's music which, superbly played, makes for a mini Rite of Spring in its boldly brash tunes, teased by pristine metrical intricacies. The music doesn't, as does the Ravel, bring tears to the eyes, but it re-creates the Spring of the Year, as fresh as the Day's Eye.

Copyright © 9 June 2002 Wilfrid Mellers, York, UK



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